I think everyone around us can feel the tension that radiates off Kaleb and me. We stand in silence staring at each other. My arms are crossed angrily over my chest. Bash stands beside me, staring at Kaleb as well. Things are about to get real awkward, real fast.
“What are you doing here?” I snap.
“Playing beer bong, what does it look like?” He says, leaning forward on the table. He sets up the cups to his liking and makes sure there’s still alcohol in the cups. His friend stands beside him with a smirk on his lips.
“I meant at this party,” I say, unmoving.
“It’s kind of self-explanatory, don’t you think.” His eyes don’t leave mine as he finishes setting up.
“Are you following me?”
“Don’t flatter yourself, dork.” He laughs.
“That’s enough.” Bash growls. “Let’s just play.”
Kaleb’s eyes snap to Bash’s, “Ready to be beaten, pretty-boy?”
“Bring it on.” Bash challenges.
“Since my friend here seems to have forgotten his manners, my name’s Tom.” Kaleb’s friend interjects. “Now, let’s have a clean game.”
I stare Kaleb down, barely bringing my attention away from him. Kaleb brings the ping-pong ball into his hands. “One rule, though.”
“And what’s that?” I ask.
“If we win, I get a few minutes alone with you,” Kaleb says quickly.
The crowd around us lets out whoops and hollers. Tom laughs. Bash doesn’t look too happy.
“We’re not in junior high, Kaleb. We’re not playing seven minutes in heaven.” I scoff.
“We’ll see when I when.” Kaleb winks at me from across the table.
“And what do we get if we win?” I ask.
“Whatever you want, name it,” Kaleb tells us.
“You leave Greer alone.” Bash states in a warning tone.
Kaleb’s eyes narrow on Bash. I can feel the heat of his glare from where I’m standing. There’s an uncomfortable amount of silence around us before Kaleb agrees. He nods and leans forward to bounce the ball across the table. His eyes meet mine, “You’re about to be drunk and you’re about to lose, dork.”
He lets the ball loose and it bounces across the table. It lands in a cup easily. “Ladies first.” Tom laughs.
I take the cup from the table and gulp it down quickly.
It’s Tom’s turn next. He makes it easy as well, causing Bash to have to take the next drink. Bash takes the ball and takes his turn first. His ball misses and Kaleb laughs. The ball is tossed back to me. I aim at the first cup and let my ball bounce across the table. It lands in the cup.
“Drink up, Kaleb,” I tell him.
He winks at me and gulps down the alcohol.
Kaleb takes his turn and makes it once again. I down another shot. Tom doesn’t make it on his next turn. When Bash takes up the ball, he makes it this time. Tom takes the first shot. I make it as well, laughing as Kaleb downs the alcohol. The game goes on for several more minutes. Tom and Kaleb have two more cups left on their side and Bash and I have three; I’m winning. When it comes to Tom’s turn, he makes it. Bash takes the cup and drinks the beer inside. We’re tied now. I miss on my turn, but Tom doesn’t. Unfortunately, Kaleb makes it as well. Leaving us each with one cup left. It’s Tom’s turn now. If he makes it, then we lose. He misses and a smile breaks across my lips. I take the ball into my hands and let it bounce. Surprisingly, I miss as well. So does Bash. My heart is beating out of chest when Kaleb aims the ball at our last cup. He lets it loose and it falls into our cup. Bash curses. I take up the cup and gulp it down.
“We win,” Kaleb says easily. “Time for my prize.”
I exchange glances with Bash, who doesn’t look happy. I turn my back on Kaleb. “He won’t drop it. I have to go with him. But don’t worry, if he touches me, I’ll deck him.”
A small smile breaks across Bash’s face. “Okay, you sure?”
I nod, “I can handle, Kaleb Nixon.”
He looks up and glares at Kaleb. “I’ll be right here when you’re done.”
I nod and round the table to stand before Kaleb. “Let’s get this over with.”
“Whoa, no need to get too excited.” He joked and put a hand on my back to guide me away from the party. He looks back to Bash and winks. “Don’t worry, pretty-boy, I’ll bring her back in one piece.”
Bash’s jaw tenses as he watches us disappear. As soon as we enter the house, I push Kaleb away from me. He laughs and ushers me up the stairs. It takes us a minute to find an empty room. Once we do, Kaleb pulls me inside locks the door. I keep my distance from him, crossing my arms over my chest.
“Would you relax, Greer? I just want to talk.” He sighs. He sits down on the edge of the bed and clasps his hands between his knees.
“Okay, then talk.” I shrug.
“Would you sit, please? I won’t bite.” He pats the spot next to him. I stay where I’m standing for a moment before giving it. I sit as far away from him as possible without falling off the bed. I stare at the blank wall before me, keeping my eyes away from Kaleb.
He clears his throat, “I don’t like you hanging out with that guy.”
My eyes snap to his, “Who? Bash?”
He nods, “There’s something weird about him.”
I scoff, “You’re kidding me, right? That’s what you want to talk about?”
He nods, “I mean, don’t you think it’s weird? He’s in college and you’re in high school.”
“You’re saying he could do better?” I snap.
“Of course not!” He defends. “I’m just saying that it’s a little odd. He’s older than you.”
“I can’t believe you right now.” I shake my head. “How many times do I have to tell you to stay out of my business? Bash is a nice guy, okay? Besides, he’s a freshman. There are plenty of freshmen dating high school girls.”
“Yeah, they’re all dating them for an easy lay.”
“So now you’re saying he’s only dating me to get in my pants?” I snap.
He groans, “No! Geez. I’m just trying to warn you, alright?”
“Well, thanks, but it’s not needed. I know Bash and he’s a good guy.” I stand to my feet and look down at him.
“Just don’t come crying to me when this backfires.” He says angrily, standing to his feet as well.
“Believe me, I won’t.” I scoff.
We stare at each other for a moment longer before I retreat to the door.
“Oh, and Greer?” Kaleb stops me as I’m about to open the door to leave. “This will backfire, trust me. He’s going to get tired of you real fast.”
“You’re a real jerk, you know that?” I don’t stick around a moment longer. I swing the door open and basically run back downstairs. My eyes look around for Bash and he’s in the same spot he said he would. I take a moment to compose myself. I don’t want Bash knowing that Kaleb affected me so much.
Bash’s eyes meet mine across the room, he studies me a moment before meeting me halfway. “You okay?” He takes a hold of my hand and gives it a gentle squeeze.
I nod, “Yeah. Kaleb’s just a jerk.”
“He didn’t do anything, did he?” He asks quickly, his Adam's apple bobbing.
I shake my head quickly, “No. He wouldn’t do that.”
He nods, “Okay. I really didn’t want to beat him up.”
I laugh, “Oh, of course not.”
He looks down at his watch quickly, “Dang, I’m sorry. Do you mind if we end this night early? I’ve got to get you home and get to bed. I’ve got this stupid family thing early tomorrow.”
“Oh, that’s fine,” I tell him with a smile.
“Cool, let’s just to say goodbye to my friends.” He takes my hand and leads me towards the kitchen. We find his friends quickly. Bash says goodbye to them and so do I. They make sure to ask when I’d be coming around next. Bash says soon. I smile as he leads me out of the party. He opens the car door for me and I slide inside.
“I had fun tonight, thanks.” I tell him as he drives away from the party.
“Good, I’m glad.” He smiles over at me and rests a hand on my knee.
I stay in his car even after he shut it off curbside of my house. Bash stares over at me with a small smile on his lips. I stare right back. He says once again that he had a good time. A second later, I’m the one that’s leaning in first. Our lips meet briefly before I pull away. “Thanks for tonight, Bash.”
He nods, “Let me walk you to your door.” He gets out of the car and jogs around to my side. He pulls open my door and I step out. He puts his hand in mine as we walk to my door. We both stop dead in our tracks when we see that my door is wide open.
My heart drops right out of my chest. Someone broke into my house.